A note from Global Justice Ecology Project:
Brazil is at the epicenter of targeted biomass production with plans to commercialize industrial plantations of genetically engineered (GE or genetically modified) trees, especially eucalyptus. As we can see in this article from World Rainforest Movement (WRM), the theft of lands from Indigenous peoples and rural communities for industrial tree plantation expansion is alive and well in Brazil, and is sanctioned by the Bolsonaro Regime. According to Javier Farago Escobar, a Harvard fellow who recently founded the startup BiomassTrust, “Brazil has the potential to produce more sustainable biomass than any country in the world.” The startup has patented a process to enable eucalyptus wood pellets to be used for fuel, despite being previously banned in many nations due to their hazardous emissions, blatantly ignoring the social, cultural and ecological impacts of eucalyptus plantations.
If the GE American chestnut tree is approved for unregulated use in the U.S., this precedent will help pave the way for the development of GE tree plantations around the world, with devastating consequences for communities and forests. WRM is part of the Campaign to Stop GE Trees and keeps abreast of GE trees developments around the Global South. They have materials available in Portuguese, Spanish, French and English.
Organized Land Theft for Industrial Tree Plantations in Brazil: The Case of AMCEL
World Rainforest Movement 15 Jan 2021
Included in Bulletin 253
Territorial regularization is one of the solutions proposed by the Bolsonaro government to overcome the deforestation crisis. But Brazilian organizations that work in defense of small farmers and traditional communities, such as the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT, by its Portuguese acronym), warn that this regularization could legalize the grabbing of public lands (known as “grilagem” in Portuguese). An emblematic example of land grabbing in the Brazilian Amazon is the case of the company Amapá Celulose S.A. (AMCEL).
Grilagem is the illegal creation of property titles for public lands, giving them a legal appearance. This practice began in colonial times with the theft of indigenous peoples’ lands, and it continues to be widely used by representatives of big capital interests, such as landowners and agribusiness, mining and tree plantation companies, among others. This mechanism allows for the appropriation of land, by expelling small farmers and preventing them from enjoying their right to use the land for their livelihoods. One of the most recent strategies to legalize land grabbing, mainly in the Brazilian Amazon region, is through the CAR (Rural Environmental Registry). This is a mechanism provided for in the new Brazilian Forest Code for registering lands digitally (1).
As a result of this historical process of land grabbing, Brazil currently has one of the most unequal land ownership situations in the world: 1% of landowners own almost half of all the rural area in Brazil; meanwhile, 50% of the properties cover only 2.3% of this area (2). Another consequence of the invasion of capital interests in the countryside—via land grabbing—was the often violent expulsion of small farmers. These farmers had to move to the cities—where 85% of the Brazilian population currently resides—and face more problems like unemployment and urban violence. In an inverse process, the struggle of the MST (Landless Workers’ Movement) and other organizations managed to get Brazil to begin, at least timidly, a process of agrarian reform.
To read the full article visit World Rainforest Movement